Midwestern Mystery

Eleven Days by Donald Harstad

The debut in a heck-of-a-good mystery series set in— don’t run away, now— Iowa. I’m here to tell you these two things: First, Iowa can be darn interesting when you get past your preconceptions. (Sort of interesting, anyway. Yes, I’m from there, so I have to say that— but I also have a whole new appreciation for Iowa-ness now that I’m in exile. : ) Isn’t it strange how that happens? But really, Iowa has all kinds of hidden virtues, and I’ve seen it surprise and delight non-Iowans many a time. So give Iowa a chance, people!) And, second, this mystery is just plain excellent. Carl Houseman is a deputy sheriff in eastern Iowa, and he’s faced with a strange new situation: a satanic cult has taken hold in the area, and all hell’s broken loose. (bad pun, intended) Houseman is a bit of an anomaly— a fictional police detective who is happily married. I just have to like it. Author Harstad himself worked as a deputy sheriff in northeastern Iowa (Clayton County, for those who appreciate such details), so he knows his stuff inside and out. And, happily for us, the man can write. If you’re a fan of Craig Johnson, you’re apt to like Donald Harstad, too. I sure do.